Bluetooth Headset and Car Kit Reviews
Sound ID SM100 Bluetooth Headset
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Sound ID is a new name in the Bluetooth hands free market. Their first product, the SM100 EarModule headset, is light and comfortable to wear. It’s packed with unique features such as noise level controls, an environmental microphone and intercom in addition to common features such as echo cancellation. While the feature list is enticing, the SM100 is more of a work in progress. The Sound ID SM100 EarModule has MSRP of $129.99 and you can buy it from Sound ID’s online store.
The Sound ID SM100 EarModule has an interesting design. Like the Bluespoon AX2 and the Gennum nX6000 headsets, the Sound ID has a very small body with extended ear tip and a small boom. The ear tip sits comfortably in your ear, and a soft ear hook wedges against the ridge in your ear to secure the headset in the right position. The ear tip should extend towards your ear canal and the boom should point towards your mouth. The headset ships with three ear tips with loops in different sizes. The ear tips and loops can fit either the left or the right ear.
The Sound ID has a Main button sitting in the front center of the headset, volume controls and the multifunction noise level reduction/mute button on the left, the charging port on the right. The Sound ID Bluetooth headset is light at 0.4 oz and it’s comfortable to wear all day long.
The Sound ID has Bluetooth v1.2 and supports both Hands-Free and Headset Profiles. We tested the SM100 EarModule with several phones and it paired with all easily. The headset supports multi-pairing and you can pair it with up to 8 devices. To pair the headset, press the Main Button while the headset is off until the LED light on top of the headset flashes red and green alternately. Use your phone to search and pair with the headset using the default passcode: 0000.
The Sound ID SM100 EarModule supports popular phone management features including call reject, call waiting, voice dialing and in-call mute/unmute. If you are a motorcycle rider you will appreciate the One2One mode on the Sound ID. The SM100 EarModule provides a two-way link that allows two EarModules to link and talk to each other in a 30-foot range. Since we only had one Sound ID, we couldn’t test this feature.
The folks at Sound ID put a lot of thought into improving voice quality on Bluetooth headsets. The SM100 EarModule features technology that aims to reduce background noise and enhance outgoing and incoming voice quality. Sounds great, but these noise reduction features have not been perfected. Though laden with enhance audio features, the headset doesn’t stand out in the voice quality or range department. In fact we couldn’t get any phone to reach over 5 feet without some breakup. Here are some of the features and our tests with several phones:
The Sound ID SM100 EarModule offers a “PersonalSound” feature that allows you to set sound enhancement levels. There are three levels with the normal level having the most natural voice when talking in quiet environments, moderate level for moderately noisy environments and the strong level that digitally enhance incoming voice to overcome strong background sound in very noisy environments. In our driving tests, outgoing calls had noticeable background noise in all three settings. Bluetooth headsets with a good DSP will cancel most normal (e.g.: standing in the yard with a breeze blowing) wind noise, but the SM100 EarModule with its mechanical and electronic wind blocking and suppressing technologies transferred significant wind noise in outgoing voice. Though the wind noise wasn’t overwhelming, it was loud enough to interrupt conversation at times. Incoming voice sounded a bit muffled. The SM100 offers echo-canceling technology but we could still hear echo with many phones.
The SM100 EarModule also offers a unique feature that increases your awareness of the sound around you while you are NOT on the phone. Some headsets, especially the ones that block your ear canal, often reduce your ability to hear sound around, and this can be unsafe when walking or driving. The SM100 EarModule has a built-in microphone that listens to the environment when you are not in a call and it amplifies the sound around you so that you can hear what’s happening without taking off the headset. It will switch to in-call mode when you make or receive a call. How does it work in real life? Not as well as it’s intended. When the environmental mic was turned on, we often heard sometimes loud feedback indoors near computers and other electronics.
The LG MUZIQ isn’t a champ when it comes to working with Bluetooth headsets but it’s not a bad player either. In our tests, the Sound ID had good sound quality with reasonable voice clarity and good volume. Wind noise was the most noticeable on the MUZIQ than among all the phones we tested. A slight breeze sounded loud. We could hear echoing on both incoming and outgoing ends, and range only reached about 5 feet before both incoming and outgoing voice started to crackle or breakup.
When working with the BlackBerry 8800 on T-Mobile (Bluetooth v2.0)
The BlackBerry 8800 behaves well with most headsets and it usually performs well in the DSP department. As result background noise was minimal. The Sound ID SM100 still had noticeable wind noise, but not as loud as the LG MUZIQ. Voice quality was good with clarity and good volume. There was slight echoing as well, but we heard the least amount of echoing on the BlackBerry among all the phones in our tests. Generally the BlackBerry 8800 has a range of 10-15 feet with other headsets we’ve tested. The Sound ID again got about 5 feet.
When working with the Treo 700p on Sprint (Bluetooth v1.2)
The DSP on the Sound ID didn’t distinguish itself when working with the Treo 700p. Background noise including wind noise was noticeable at about the same levels in all three noise canceling settings. Outgoing voice was decent and background noise didn’t overwhelm the caller’s voice. Incoming voice sounded very digital processed, and not as clear as it was on the other phones in our tests. At times the incoming voice sounded like an old time radio broadcast. There was noticeable echoing when we turned up the volume. Treo 700p doesn’t usually have good range with Bluetooth headsets, and the Sound ID had some crackling and breakup when the Treo was on the opposite side of my body from the headset.
The Sound ID SM100 EarModul has a rechargeable 4.2V Lithium-Ion battery that you can charge using the included world AC adapter or the USB adapter. It takes about 3 hours to fully charge. Claimed talk time is 8 hours and claimed standby time is 70 hours. The talk time was very good by Bluetooth headset standards, but the standby was not. If you turn on the environmental mic which allows you to hear the sounds around you, the headset will last for about a day. When the battery is low the headset will alert you with both audible chirps and a flashing red LED.
The SM100, Plantronics Explorer 330 and Bluespoon AX.
Sound ID had some really good ideas for a super headset, but the implementation just isn’t there. Since the SM100 EarModule was their firstborn, we're hoping the next generation will iron out the issues and have better performance. Still if you are mainly calling from quite environments (especially without wind) and your phone is always close by, you can use the Sound ID. The small size and lightweight make it quite comfortable to wear. Combining wireless phone headset and motorcycle intercom headset is a big plus for those who ride bikes, though road and motorcycle engine noise may be a problem (we did not test this feature).
Clean industrial design, small size and lightweight. Voice quality is general clear and loud. Has some nifty features such as intercom and multi-phone pairing. Talk time is long.
DSP isn’t very effective in reducing background noise like wind or road noise. Echo is noticable. Range is short. Standby time isn’t impressive.
The headset, AC adapter, USB adapter, RealComfort Ear loops in three sizes, User Manual and Quick Start Guide.